Hidden heating dangers

Wednesday, October 22nd 2008, 8:06 pm
By: News 9

By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Before you turn on your heater, going through some last minute checkups could keep you safe from hidden dangers.

Experts say one in every four homes have some type of problem with their furnace. Those are fairly high numbers when you consider they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. This is a silent killer because without a detector, there is no way to know it's in the air.

With no way to know it was happening, an Oklahoma mother and a son were found dead, along with their four dogs. They were killed when carbon monoxide leaked into their mobile home.

Gerri Norton is trying to prevent the same type of tragedy from happening to her family, so she's being proactive when it comes to her furnace.

"I am concerned about it enough to have it checked every year," Norton said.

She had it checked for any types of cracks that could have the potential to leak carbon monoxide.

"I am a firm believer in keeping up the maintenance on it," Norton said.

Mike Kaiser, a service technician with Quality Air Inc., checked Norton's furnace and found nothing wrong. But in over 30 years of being in the business of repairing furnaces, he said it isn't always the case.

"Probably three-quarters of the ones I brought back to the shop had major holes, cracks and things. We had one that had eight or nine difference cracks, all with the potential to leak carbon monoxide," Kaiser said.

In fact, according to one Oklahoma study called the Injury Update, between 1994 and 2003, carbon monoxide killed nearly 300 people in Oklahoma alone and hospitalized around 15,000 nationwide each year. In some cases, if not most, it's likely those who were killed didn't stand a chance.

"Some real heavy carbon monoxide, you could be dead in over an hour with it," Kaiser said.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning, have a technician, who's certified, come out to your home and check your heating system. Carbon monoxide detectors are another form of protection. They can be found at stores for as little as $30, which is a small price to pay to stay protected against a silent killer.

As the weather cools down, many places are running specials on heating checkups, so now is a great time to save on a simple safety check.